Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution [Import - PAL]
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sega AM2
Genre
Fighting
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Suggestive Themes, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Deep, complex fighting engine
• Good variety of characters
• Highly addictive
• Great graphics
• Enormous replay value

The Bad

• Voice work can be grating
• As can the music
• Occasional steep learning curve

 
Grade
A

Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution is the latest installment in Sega AM2's flagship franchise. The original Virtua Fighter burst onto the scene in 1993 and wowed onlookers with it's fully 3D characters and deep, involving combat system, pretty much single handedly inventing the 3D fighting genre. Now 10 years and 4 incarnations later how does the franchise stand up to the rest of the crowded genre?

The Virtua Fighter series has never really been about story, or flash. Each character gets an introduction and short history in the manual and that's about it. Those expecting a story heavy fighting game a la Soul Calibur or Tekken will be disappointed. What the VF games are known for is the deep, complex fighting engine and the sheer variety of characters on offer and VF4 Evolution is no exception.

Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution manages to improve upon VF4 (also reviewed here) in almost every way. Rather than go for a simple quick cash in, AM2 have completely overhauled the graphics, improved the character balance, and even found time to squeeze in new moves for each character. The total roster of characters has also been increased to 15, with two new characters, Goh Hinogami and Brad Burns, further increasing the range of fighting styles on offer. The choice of characters may seem small compared to something like Tekken Tag, but each character is unique and offers a very different style of play. From the brute force styles of Wolf and Jeffrey, to the quick and agile Pai or Lion, to the defensive play of Vanessa and Aoi there genuinely is something for everyone.

There are four modes of play in VF4 Evolution - Arcade, Quest, Versus and Training. Arcade is precisely what it says on the tin. A pretty much perfect port of the arcade version of the game, with fighters trying to win the tournament and face up to Dural. Training is pretty much a necessity for anyone new to the VF series, and since it is so well put together is a worthwhile investment for those wanting to try out the new characters or to learn the new moves for each of the old stalwarts. Versus allows two players to beat the living crap out of each other and doesn't need to be explained.

Quest mode is where the meat and potatoes of the game reside. You start off as a lowly fighter wandering around the arcades of Tokyo trying to improve you standing in the arcades. Once you pick a character, it is your job to take part in various tournaments and competitions in order to raise the rank of your character and become the VF4 champion. This is accomplished from a menu screen which allows one to travel between various arcades completing both Ranking Matches and Prize Matches in order to increase you standing. Money obtained from these matches can then be used to purchase a bewildering array of items for your character ranging from the stupid (Lion's crash helmet) to the quite frankly awesome (Original VF character models, mmmmm blocky). One of the best parts about quest mode is the AI which has been implemented for your opponents. At the beginning you fight lower level characters which put up a decent fight, but are, well, a bit crap. As your standing increases then so does the level of your opponents, which can lead to some truly intense fights, where the computer is just as good as you and learns to adapt to your fighting style.

The overall presentation of the game is also very well done, with the graphics vastly improved from VF4 - gone are the shimmery textures and the jagged edges. Everything looks great and runs at a smooth 60fps. Sound wise everything is also top notch, despite some rather crappy voice work (Yes, Lion, I am looking at you) and the fact that some of the music is quite frankly awful.

The lack of story or in fact the lack of any endings may put some people off, as may the sometimes cliff-like learning curve, however if you are willing to put time and effort into the game it will reward you ten fold. You genuinely feel as if you are getting better at the game with each play and the game is enormously replayable.

In summary, VF4 Evolution is probably the best 3D fighter on the market at the moment, it offers pretty much everything a fighting game should offer and then some. I cannot recommend it enough to both fans of the genre and those who are new to the series. Give it a try, watch your life disappear..

- - Kid Spatula

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